Distraction is a common contributing factor in most crashes and near crashes.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, accounting for more than one in three deaths in this age group. For every mile drive, teen drivers are four times more likely than older drivers to crash. Distracted driving occurs when the driver engages in any activity that may distract them from the primary task of driving. The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers is the under 20 group. In 2008, driver distraction is reported to have been involved in 16 percent of all fatal crashes for this group, a higher percentage than that for all other age groups. (according to Child Trends Data Bank)
There Are Three Main Types Of Distraction
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive: taking your mind off what you're doing
Distracted Driving Can Be Any of the Following
- Changing the Radio
- Putting a CD in the player
- Changing the song on your iPod
- Waving to other people on the road
- Passengers in your vehicle
- Talking on a cell phone
- Entering an address in your GPS
- Eating while driving
While all distractions can endanger drivers' safety, texting is the most alarming because it involves all three types of distraction. When you are behind the wheel of a vehicle, you should focus on one thing - driving!
Here Are Some Things to Keep in Mind About the Dangers of Distracted DrivingAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
- Distracted drivers killed 5,474 people in 2009
- Distraction is a factor in 16% of all traffic fatalities.
- Distracted drivers injured 448,000 people, which accounted for 20% of all people injured in traffic crashes.
- Texting takes a driverís eyes off the road for at least four seconds at a time ó long enough at high speeds to travel the length of a football field. Under those circumstances, there is no time to react to a stopped car, a stop sign, or anything else.
Letís work together to put a stop to distracted driving, and letís start with YOU and YOUR influence.
The Double Whammy
Teens and drivers up to the age of 25 have the most car crashes
The leading factor in most crashes and near-crashes is distracted driving
Put the two together, and you have all you need to make your day really bad if you have a crash, or life-changing if your crash injures or kills someone. As a teen, you are at especially high risk if you drive and talk or text on the cell phone, reach for something, eat, adjust music selection, shave or put on makeup, or if you drive drowsy. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Virginia Tech Transportation Institute completed a study of 100 cars. They placed tracking and sensing devices in each car for over a year. The 241 drivers of the vehicles were involved in 82 crashes and 761 near crashes. They found that reaching for a moving object like a bottle of soda falling out of the cup holder increased the risk of a crash or near-crash by nine times; looking at an object outside of the car by 3.7 times; reading or applying makeup increased risk by 3 times; and talking or listening on a cell phone by 1.3 times.
The most common distraction for drivers was cell phones.
Even though cell phone use is less risky than some of the other items, the sheer amount of it occurring while driving makes it a significant contributor to car crashes. Drowsy driving is a serious problem among teens, increasing a driver's risk of crash or a near-crash by at least four times. Today, you can begin by being a safer driver.
- If your cell phone rings while driving, do not answer it until you can pull over safely. Do not dial anyone while you're driving either. It's just not that important.
- If something falls off the seat or from a cup holder, fight the urge to grab it. It's better to spill the soda on the seat than to cause a crash.
- If you're tired, don't drive. Pull over in a safe place and rest.
Driving is a privilege, and not a right. Be careful so you can keep the privilege.